Friday, December 16, 2011

le comptoir

I have been the laziest food blogger ever. Sucked into a vortex of work and grinding my teeth daily against the soft, texture-less diet of cafeteria food.

my life

But what I really crave is this..

                                                                     and this..

Therefore the liberation of dining at Gary Mene's pop up, Le Comptoir, was beyond a treat. In LA, there are certain trends that will leave a mark in history, food history that is. As of late, there are the food trucks, pop up restaurants, foraging, underground restaurants and of course mo-ga. The pop-up is one of my favorite concepts. Chefs are more inclined to make small talk with patrons and the dishes tend be more innovative. With pop-ups, there is also the added benefit of less overhead on the chef, which also means you get more bang for your buck. Who doesn't like a good deal? Le Comptoir touches on all of these; innovation, quality, intimacy, and value. It is temporarily located in Tiara, a cafe of some sort, with a bar seating of 12. The  l'atelier approach works flawlessly sitting at the counter and watching Gary's team at work.

Up close and personal, with Gary Mene shaving fresh black truffles on my fettuccine.

The sunny side-up egg is an interactive dish that allowed us to fold in our own lettuce and herbs and sprinkle with sea salt.

"veggie platter" musque de provence squash, mustard frill, fennel, onion petals, roasted grapes, brussels sprouts, warren pears

heirloom shelling beans “pot roast”, haricots verts, romano beans, young celery, smoked scallions, sultana raisin-pine nut relish, truffle infused broth

j&j ranch grassfed strip loin, hearts of romaine, san marzano tomato marmalade, barbara's potatoes, carrot top vinaigrette

"lemon lush", graham cracker crust, chocolate, sour cream, vanilla tuille

The black truffles over home made fettuccine were procured that same day from the "truffle brothers". It was nothing short of rich and magnificent. A simple execution of a butter sauce paired symbiotically with parchment thin truffles shaved table side. Heaven. The opening dish of yogurt "soup" poured over pickled chanterelles and okinawan yam was velvety smooth and left me contemplating licking the bowl. I noticed Gary's obsession with seasonal ingredients halfway through the meal. He even announced that his inspiration comes from foraged vegetables and that he strives to keep the ingredients in its natural state, without tempering it too much, hoping to exaggerate the taste with the most minimal of torturing and handling.And that he did. Dinner concluded perfectly with coffee imported from Honduras, which I might add, was better than any Kona, Java or Costa Rican bean ever had. I questioned Menes on when this stint in Tiara was going to conclude. He replied "when the wheels fall off." So make the trek to Le Comptoir before "the wheels fall off" and you just might be able to catch Menes with his house made cheese infused with truffles. Unfortunately, I didn't catch him in that mood.